Passenger Rights

Last week’s announcement by the Department of Transportation regarding airline passenger rights was chock full of good news for travelers.

The new regulations—which take effect in August—not only make air travel easier, but also provide solutions for a few common-sense issues we’ve been hearing about here in “airport world” for a while.

Here’s a breakdown of the rules:

1)      Airlines will be required to disclose, in plain view on their websites, any possible additional fees. This means when you book your ticket online, there won’t be any surprises. Everything from bag fees and cancellation or change fees, to meals, upgrades—even government taxes and fees—must be presented clearly.

2)      If your bag is lost, the airline must refund your baggage fee. We can probably all agree this just makes sense.

3)      If you’ve ever been bumped from a flight involuntarily because of an overbooked plane, you’ll appreciate this one: Increased compensation for involuntary bumping. The new rule increases the payment passengers may receive for both short and long delays.

4)      International flights by U.S. airlines—as well as by foreign airlines at U.S. airports—are now required to limit tarmac delays to four hours (with a few sensible exceptions for security and air traffic reasons). Passengers must also be provided food and water after the two-hour mark, plus the obvious necessities of working restrooms and medical care, if and when it’s needed.

It’s great to glimpse some positive changes for airline passengers. From the customer service perspective, these regulations are a much needed (and, frankly, much overdue) improvement to the air travel industry, and we’ll be happy to see them take effect later this summer.

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